Students' Motivation and Learning of Science in a Multi-User Virtual Environment

Document Type



American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Publication Date



This NSF-funded project utilizes graphical multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) as a vehicle to study (1) classroom-based situated learning and (2) the ways in which virtual environments may aid the transfer of learning from classroom contexts into real world settings. In the projects River City curriculum, teams of middle school students are asked to collaboratively solve a simulated 19th century city's problems with illness, through interaction with each others avatars, digital artifacts, tacit clues, and computer-based agents acting as mentors and colleagues in a virtual community of practice. In this proposal, we provide an overview of early results from a large-scale implementation of the River City environment and curriculum this past May. Our preliminary findings show that students and teachers were highly engaged, that student attendance improved, that disruptive behavior dropped, and that interesting patterns are emerging about which students do best under our various pedagogical conditions.

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